Category Archives: VMart

Baseball approaches.

Brad Ausmus - is this thing on?
illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Is it? Is this thing still on? Yes, well, looks like it is. How about that.

I hear we may have some baseball again soon. That’s a thing that still happens in the world, right? The sun rises, the air warms, the crocuses blossom, the wild turkeys begin their crazed death matches with each other and with all reflective surfaces at turkey-eye-height (a major problem in my neighborhood), and soon, one way or another, the voice of the turtle will be heard in our land. If you know what I mean. And if you’re reading a website of Detroit Tigers cartoons, I reckon that you do.

There’s been a lot going on in RotT Headquarters (as the long cartoon drought may have indicated), so I’ve only got bits and pieces of the latest news…

Daniel Norris - axe back injury

I guess Daniel Norris was supposed to contribute his luxurious hipster beard and his axe-wielding, van-dwelling ways to the clubhouse this April, but he did something to his back? I assume this is how it went down. Nobody tell me otherwise.

Justin Upton and Wayne

We may have lost one BEAUTIFUL PERFECT FRENCH BULLDOG when David Price took Astro to Boston. But at least we have some small consolation in the acquisition of Justin Upton and his special friend Wayne (as introduced by Bless You Boys, who have apparently been paying attention all this time, unlike some idiot blogs). I hope that Justin knows he should feel free to bring Wayne into the clubhouse at all times, and on the team plane, and to press conferences, and into our hearts.

Victor Martinez is very old

Victor Martinez is probably-maybe starting the season on the Disabled List, because he injured his hamstring? back? oblique? shoulder? knee? every single tendon in his body at once? Nobody is surprised, because this man has the body of an elder. May his corresponding elder wisdom allow him to compensate and remain useful to the Tigers this season.

Anthony Gose Go

Anthony (Go)se. I have nothing to say about this beyond: there it is.

some thoughts on the recent games

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Jose Iglesias is a defensive wizard, the end.

No I lied, here are a couple more things.

Have you ever seen that video of the guy throwing a brick into a washing machine? It’s chugging along and then this brick gets tossed into its drum and it starts spinning out of control and tearing itself to pieces with the force of its own motion, and stuff begins flying off until eventually the whole thing breaks apart? (This is what I’m talking about.)

Watching that washing machine is like watching Victor Martinez run right now.

There was a moment in last night’s game where Victor had to try to score from second base. Watching him chug his way around the bases was amazing and terrible. He did make it home, so, you know, that showed strength and determination and some degree of capability, but holy cats did the journey look painful. Yesterday was also the Boston Marathon, and there were people who in the last mile of 26.2 looked like they were doing better than Victor in his last 90 feet.

It’s been a busy few weeks and I have not been able to sit down and watch as much Tigers baseball as I would like, so it is possible that I just haven’t seen enough of Victor to realize how truly f’ed his body is until this last game. But now that I have had this realization… man, I know he wants to play, but can’t we declare this a humanitarian issue and make him sit quietly for a while so his bodily tissues can settle into some slightly less inflamed state?

Other things:

It’s the LAST WEEK for the Art World Universe Kickstarter!! Please give it a look and help make these actually pretty awesome weird things a reality.

I wrote a short story of baseball fiction, and Hobart Pulp published it! It’s called The First Rule is: Don’t Speak and it’s the first fiction I’ve put out into the world in a very long time (aside from whatever you want to call what happens over here). NEAT.

Your Detroit Tigers 2015 Season Preview: Part I

It has been a winter of suffering. A winter of bitter cold. A winter of more snow than this tender land has seen in the age of recorded snow totals, if you live with me in the greater Boston area. A winter of no baseball, the same as every winter, because every year we must go through a time of horrible void and dumb fast indoor sports on TV in order to properly rekindle our appreciation for the noblest slow game that makes a modicum of sense and therefore isn’t cricket.

But now it is March! The players we know and love are in Florida cavorting with the players we know and hate, and forgetting the names of players we might eventually come to know if they get called up at some point. Wealthy young men are parking their excessive cars near a field of play. There is probably a fragrant breeze blowing through palm fronds or something, I don’t know, I still dwell in a landscape dominated by enormous filthy piles of road snow. We are mere weeks away from the beginning of a new baseball year.

What will 2015 bring? I think we can hazard some decent guesses.

–David Price is tapped to pitch the Tigers’ opener. Justin Verlander is extremely sad, until an emissary is sent to cheer him up.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

–Miguel Cabrera has a slow start to the season, as he is healthy enough to be on the Opening Day roster, but is still working his way back from his injuries. Rival pitchers begin to feel overconfident and stop pitching to him as cautiously as they have in years past. Miggy takes advantage of this collective moment of weakness at the peak of his recovery and has a monster middle of the year, a middle of the year the likes of which Major League Baseball has never seen before. He leads the league in slugging percentage by a wide margin in July. He is intentionally walked a record number of times in August.

–Alex Avila suffers 12 concussions over the course of the season, declares the year a massive improvement.

–Joba Chamberlain punches a cooler in the dugout, inexplicably begins pitching better after.

–Al Alburquerque is recognized for his contributions to visual culture with a gallery exhibition of his Instagram photos.

–Victor Martinez injures both knees again, has radical new surgery in Germany, becomes first MLB player with robot legs, touching off a whole new class of debate about performance enhancement. Little Victor learns how to say ‘transhumanism’.

Part II coming soon!

Some ValenTigers for you.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Happy mid-February, everyone! What better time to proclaim one’s love for another? Here are some Tigers to share their feelings with you, their best beloved Tigers fan.

Meanwhile, here in Boston, there is no love, only a cold, frozen wasteland of snow and aloneness.

May the Tigers bring you greater warmth!

All Star Tigers and other cartoons.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Your 2013 All Star Tigers starters: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera. Let’s talk about this trio, just all the sexy baseball-playin’ ability a person can imagine inside their brain and outside their brain in the statistic-gathering websites. And by ‘let’s talk about’ this I mean ‘well uh you can look at that picture which also you can click for bigger.’ Why are they standing in a star-shaped light-filled pit? Because ALL STAR GAME. Let us be clear: if I had access to these three, and also had access to a star-shaped light-filled pit, and Sports Illustrated was asking me to do an All Star Game photoshoot, this is totally the photoshoot that I would do. Sadly for you, me, and the universe, this will never come to pass, so it shall remain a scenario that can only exist in drawn form.

You know what is even more exciting than the fact that the Tigers have 3 starters in the All Star Game? You probably already do know because I am making this post pretty late in the game, but it is the fact that the Tigers actually have SIX players in the All Star Game. SIX.

Jhonny Peralta, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder: ladies and gentlecats, your reserves, which can also be clicked for bigger:

Why are they riding star-shaped flying surf boards? BECAUSE ALL STAR GAME.

Now I just have an assortment of cartoons sitting around, because due to External Circumstances it has taken me forever to scan and color things. I could try to integrate them gracefully into this post but like the SI photoshoot it is just not going to happen. We will all have our disappointments on this day.

That thing happened where the Tigers gave Toronto a very special present on Canada Day, because Paws is nothing if not a charitable cat. Look, foreign policy is touchy for the United States on many fronts nowadays; it was important for the Tigers to do their bit for international relations.

Hey remember that time when Jose Valverde was lol ok nope me neither nevermind.

Max Scherzer is 13-0, amazing the greater baseball community and possibly also Max himself. Obviously he has been gazing at things with the blue eye, as we all know that is how that works.

“Spotlight on Drew Smyly.”

Is Victor Martinez finally pulling up his woeful very low no good BABIP? Statistics says: at some point, almost certainly!

In Matt Tuiasosopo do we have the new Magglio Ordonez? No. But in terms of hair… still no, but he may well be the closest thing we’ve got right now, and that deserves remark. More than that: it deserves commendation. The time of Magglio’s hair was a magical time for us as Tigers fans and as human beings. If even a fraction of that former glory can be recaptured, we will owe Mr. Tuiasosopo a shampoo of thanks.

I can’t help it. Joaquin Benoit is up for the Final Man Vote for the All Star Game, which he will inevitably lose because a Yankee and a Red Sock are also in the running, but in any event the Tigers have been using the hashtag #BackBenoit on the Twitters to try to drum up a voting campaign for him, or something. Every time I see it, this is what I think.

Back that thang up, Joaquin. Go Tigers.

Why Spring Training is exciting.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

The Spring! A magical time of renewal and rebirth, birds stretching their wings and beginning to think about those long migrations, Canadian geese settling down to poop all over your city, a time for fresh green buds to appear only to be immediately buried by the next snowstorm. A time for people in cold northerly climes to sit transfixed by photos and videos on their screened devices, showing them what Florida looks like. A time for Ryan Raburn to be employed, although not, for once, by the Tigers. A time for the joyous resumption of baseball activities and all that that entails. But what does it entail? So many wonders. Let us share them, friends.

The Spring brings us Dave Dombrowski’s arbitration-stomping dance, executed with great style each year, this year no less than the others. Should a potential arbitration arise, there he is, our President/CEO/GM/savior-in-stompy-boots, ready to dance like a veritable superb bird of paradise, to dazzle his players and beat any hint of arbitration down into the dirt where it belongs. Filthy process.

The Spring also brings us a stunning new array of striped polo shirts for Mr. D to display at the ballpark, as is only fitting and proper.

(note: those are all Detroit News photos from this Spring)

The Spring brings us a healthy Victor Martinez, his knees filled not with loose shards of bone, or excess fluid, or anything else likely to cause pain, terror and trips to the DL, but instead filled with sunshine and flower petals and the tender breath of sleeping kittens.

Bound freely upon those knees, O Victor! But not too freely. Let us keep them nice and unhurt, yes?

The Spring brings us a delightfully fresh crop of quotes from Jim Leyland, such as when he says that one of his own relief pitchers is “rowing with one oar.” He says it with love, mind you. But it is a very Jim Leylandian species of love, one that blossoms best and most readily in the low-stress environment of early Spring Training and in the presence of one Phillip Douglas Coke, which must of course not pass unremarked.

You row that boat, Phillip. You row your little heart out, with your singular oar and your quixotic determination in the face of this impediment.

The Spring brings us an opportunity to gaze upon the sizable noggin of Bruce Rondon, so that we may wonder at his potential ability to be a Major League closer with the assistance of visual aids instead of the cold words and numbers that have tried to form our perceptions of him all this long winter. Can Bruce Rondon close? Let us look at him and see.

The Spring brings us a stimulating debate on the topic of the new batting practice hats. Are they good? Are they hairball-inducingly bad? Are they naught but mediocre? All have thoughts and feelings on the matter. We do not even have to debate the BP hat. We may engage in a BP hat dialectic if we find that mode of communication more pleasant and useful. All these things are permitted in the Spring.

The Spring also brings us Justin Verlander’s super super dorky golfing outfits. It may in the final estimation be the best wonder that the Spring has to offer.

nooo Victor noooooooo

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Victor Martinez has torn his ACL while conditioning last week. He could miss the entire 2012 season.

My initial reaction was several paragraphs of the word NO. Nooooo noooooo NoooOOOOooooOooooo no no no no NO NO NO noooooOOOOoooOooOoOOoo. And so on. I spare you the paragraph treatment but know that that is what is going on inside my head right now.

There goes our DH… our protection for Miguel Cabrera… one of a very few anchors in an already-suspect lineup…

And what of Little Victor? If Big Victor is not around the team because he’s spending the entire season getting surgery and lying around recovering and rehabbing and and and (*sob!*)… then there is no reason for Little Victor to be hanging around the clubhouse, or taking BP, or doing any one of the million things he did last year to make life a little more joyous at Comerica and on the road. I’M NOT OK WITH THIS.

Now the Tigers need a DH. How ridiculous is that? Last year we had like fifteen separate dudes who could have been the DH on most other teams, but we had to watch their decrepit bodies struggle gamely in the field because there is only so much injured-old-dude-hiding one AL team can do. Now who do we use? Andy Dirks? Paws almighty. He’s not even broken, and his bat is not that big.

Do we re-sign Carlos or Magglio? Wait guys, come back, we know you are made of injury and your muscle fibers will snap at the slightest spring breeze, but we have room for you now! This is a real thing that has happened to our team! (note: do not actually re-sign Carlos or Magglio)

What does it mean that I already had this image sitting in my Photobucket?? Was this horrible event PRESAGED? By TERRIBLE CARTOONS? Oh man Universe I am SO SORRY.

Winning is great, but stop this senseless abuse.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It’s getting worse. As if the unrelenting schedule of play was not bad enough… as if the constant foul ball foot abuse, the whacks to the center of the mask, the bad bounces that strike unprotected hands were not bad enough… as if the collisions at the plate where 10,000 things can go wrong at once are not bad enough…

Now they’re going for his NECK! Holy Paws, this needs to stop. Alex Avila is going to end the season in pieces, or I am going to have a nervous breakdown on his behalf. Possibly both. Probably both.

Other things from this game:

–Justin Verlander gave up a leadoff home run to Matt Joyce, then settled in and controlled the heck out of the rest of the game. I’m willing to chalk the homer up to a donation to orphaned kittens. It didn’t get in the way of Verlander’s 19th win of the season, so it’s all good.

–Alex Avila homered, because he is stronger than a mortal man and can do things like that even while suffering inhumane amounts of catcher abuse.

–Don Kelly homered, because LOL.

–Papa Grande in non-save situations is rather nerve-wracking, but I would still rather watch him a hundred times than Fernando Rodney once in the same situation.

–I really like when the Verlander/Avila battery catches someone stealing, or picks someone off (it was a CS today, of Ben Zobrist). Verlander’s move is a deadly cobra strike and Avila’s arm is as mighty as his beard. We all know this, but it is nice to remind the rest of the league every so often.

–In the dugout, at some point in the middle of the game: Scherzer up by the rail, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez talking to someone (Porcello, I think?), with someone behind them sitting on the bench. Magglio started putting his shirt up over his nose, acting all ridiculous and coy, and so did the guy on the bench. Rod and Mario realized that there was Fart Fun happening in the dugout, and lost their minds giggling.

A shot a minute later made it seem like Miggy was accusing Max of being the offending party, but I suppose we shall never know.

–Victor Martinez was a late scratch from the lineup with BACK SPASMS. Miggy DH’d and Kelly played first. Obviously not good, since back spasms can and do recur, and especially not good because changes in gait (such as one might have from a KNEE INJURY) can lead to back spasms. VMart might be setting himself up for a deathspiral of unhealing hurtiness here.

–The emergency catcher role was allegedly shifted from Kelly to Inge today, even though the word on the electronic street had been that the FO didn’t think Inge’s knees were healthy enough to catch, even on rare occasion. Of course, since there is no backup at the moment, the emergency catcher is technically also the backup catcher. We may see something come of this, that’s all I’m sayin’.

–I feel like there was something else, but I forgot. Oh well.

a variety of Tigers things, related in the usual manner

So I haven’t posted in a few days. Things have been busy in RotTLand, you know, a bunch of work stuff, some friends I don’t get to see much up to visit, cat vomit to clean off the carpet, the usual. Anyways. Here’s a round-up of some of the things that have been happening.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

You know I was in Detroit, right? It was hot. It was WICKED hot.

But it was OK, because I got to see Jacob Turner’s debut! So exciting for Rick Porcello; for one brief moment, he was the baby in the rotation no longer. Of course then Turner went right back down and Porcello was back to being the tiniest kitten.

I mean, there are rookies on the team, and FredFred (in his third season!) is still the youngest. It must be kinda rough. He’s probably hoping Turner comes back in September and then Porcello can say things like “KIDS THESE DAYS” to someone in the clubhouse who’s not Little Victor.

We were THISCLOSE to seeing Justin Verlander throw another no-hitter in the Sunday game. I have never seen a no-hitter in person and although I get out to a fair number of baseball games, I rarely get to see them in Detroit, so I was sitting there (roasting in the sun), thinking… oh man, imagine if Verlander does this and I get to see him do it, at home! Also, it seemed only fair that we be rewarded with a truly remarkable game if we were going to sit in those scorched frying pan seats for 9 innings.

Alas, such riches were not to be mine. Justin was still immense, though, and it was still A Thing to See.

I finally met @WhosYourTiger and he took me around the ballpark to look at some things I would not have looked at otherwise and it was exactly like this.

What else has been happening? Hmm.

Austin Jackson made a RIDICULOUS catch. Like an old school Torii Hunter Spiderman move, but he was catching air, so it was more of a Superman. I drew him with a cape but that’s really the only thing that I changed. He saw the ball going over the wall, said to himself, “Mmm… nope,” and stole that home run away. The kind of play to give a fan with a delicate constitution a proper attack of the vapors.

If you haven’t seen it already you should really watch the video, if only to hear Rod’s call and way his voice breaks from sheer joy.

Victor hurt his knee doing one of his weird little dances at the plate. He is back in the game tonight, which is how behind I am on Current Tigers Events, but it was still not pleasant to see at the time. My first thought was OH NOOOO and my second thought was Oh my goodness I hope Little Victor is not watching this.

He’s DHing tonight and right now he’s 1-for-3, so that’s OK, I guess. It’ll definitely be something to watch, though: even Jim Leyland has admitted that Alex Avila has been beaten up a bit too much at this point in the season, and now his backup has this knee strain or sprain or whatever that has nominally healed, but you KNOW how those things are when it comes to recurrences and re-tweakings, especially when it comes to the Tigers. And Victor has a ton of wear on his knees already, lots more than Random Infielder X would have, on account of his accumulated years of catching experience.

So we all say that Avila has to rest more, but do you really want to take Victor away from the DH spot too often and risk him getting hurt, or more hurt, or whatever? Do you bring up another catcher and hope you can limp along on a slightly smaller bullpen or bench until the rosters expand in September (unlikely)? Do you tell Don Kelly to start getting his gear ready again? DO YOU JUST WORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING EVER, LIKE ROAR OF THE TIGERS?

Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland were both signed to contract extensions. Leyland is locked up through the 2012 season and Mr. D is on board for four more years, through 2015. My thoughts on this move are really disorganized and I’m not sure you need to hear them, but generally I am in favor. Generally. I would like Leyland to actually DO something about the players he overuses, though, instead of just giving the overuse lip service.

I mean, the fact that he even acknowledges it now is some progress, but let’s take this thing all the way to the pot of freshly rested ballplayer gold at the end of the rainbow, you know?

I also hope the Dombrowski contract contained a Striped Shirt clause.

And for no real reason, here’s Doug Fister wearing Hulk Hands.

Brad Penny has had ENOUGH.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

You think you can just keep running Brad Penny out there for day games, Jim Leyland? Well, you cannot. Brad Penny has reached his limit. He has started 21 games this season, and 14 of them have been day games, including the last 4 in a row. That is enough. Brad Penny’s willingness to roast himself in the harsh rays of the summer sun has been whittled down into oblivion.

He made his dissatisfaction plain by doing, in the Thursday game, the following:

–Giving up 7 runs, all earned.

–Giving up a home run and a triple to Mark Trumbo alone.

–Failing to make it out of the 4th inning, and managing to throw 74 pitches in that time.

–Screaming at Victor Martinez when Victor attempted to come out to the mound to discuss why Penny suddenly could not get Angels out.

–Posturing belligerently when Victor refused to meekly retreat back behind the plate, forcing Jeff Jones to lumber out to intervene, and causing Carlos Guillen to physically place himself between pitcher and catcher because the angry yelling and gesturing was making him nervous.

What do you have to say for yourself, Mr. Penny?

Me and Victor have been friends for a while now, and that happens when you’re competing.

It had nothing to do with pitch selection or anything like that. With a runner on second, I like to come set taking signs. That way, the hitter can’t look at second base and anything there. I’ve pitched my whole career that way, and [Martinez] didn’t want me to do it.
Jason Beck/

All righty then. Penny and VMart got along well in Boston, and Penny was supposedly happy to have the chance to work with Victor again when they both landed in Detroit. And really, how could anyone be angry with Victor? He is practically hugs personified.

It’s clear that all the sunlight is getting to Penny. Let the man pitch a few night games in a row, cool his brainpan down, give him a chance to stop slathering himself in so much sunscreen that he’s leaving the ball greasy, etc.

Also in this game: Jim Leyland was ejected for no particular reason (aside from the ongoing War With the Umpires, of course); Austin Jackson had an actual hit-by-pitch that the umpires decided was a phantom-hit-by-pitch; and David Purcey vomited all over the mound, then peed in the vomit, then lay down and passed out in it. But we shall not speak of these things.

Instead we shall speak of this quote, coming to us from writer Chris Vannini:

Avila comes out for BP. Leyland says “What are you doing? You have the day off. Go get a massage or something … You got smoked yesterday.”

There is only one possible reaction to this.

That’s all for a few days, as I will have reduced connectivity while in the Midwest. Remember to search for RotT if you’ll be at the Saturday or Sunday games, and get yourselves ready, because I will have a super special blog post treat for you cats upon my return.